Guinea pigs are herbivores that would usually spend many hours a day foraging and grazing on grass in small herds. Their teeth grow continuously throughout life, so they need a diet high in roughage to encourage chewing. Chewing helps to wear down their teeth and prevent serious dental problems. Providing sufficient fibre in their diet is also very important for both their gastrointestinal system and general health.
A guinea pig diet should contain the following:
- A constant supply of grass and/or grass hay (such as Timothy, Oaten, Wheaten, Pasture, Paddock, Meadow or Ryegrass hays). Guinea pigs should not be fed Lucerne (alfalfa) or Clover hays as they are too high in protein and calcium. Providing grass/grass hay is paramount in providing the ‘complete’ diet and encourages ‘chewing’ for long periods of time.
- Fresh leafy green vegetables & herbs. Some examples of these include broccoli, cabbage, celery, endive, carrot tops, bok choy/other Asian greens, dark leafed lettuce varieties, parsley, dandelion, coriander, basil, dill, mint.
- A dietary source of Vitamin C because (like humans), guinea pigs cannot synthesise Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) from other food substances. This is usually supplied sufficiently by the fresh leafy green veggies, but it is safer to supplement this with small quantities of vitamin C rich foods such as citrus or kiwi fruit. (Commercial Vitamin C supplements added to their drinking water or Vitamin C in commercial feeds are not reliable sources of vitamin C)
- High quality commercial ‘Guinea Pig’ pellets (minimum 16% fibre content) may be offered in small quantities, but these should not form the main part of the diet.
- Access to clean fresh water at all times
If you need to change your guinea pig's diet, please make sure you introduce any changes gradually over a few weeks.
The following foods should not be offered to guinea pigs: cereals, grains, nuts, seeds, corn, beans, peas, breads, biscuits, sweets, sugar, breakfast cereals, chocolate, buttercups, garden shrubs, lily of the valley, onion grass, onions, potato tops, raw beans; beetroot, spinach and rhubarb leaves; pickled foods or any bulk plants (may cause digestive problems).